2002. 107 Minutes. Rated R.
Quote: Why are you alive?
It’s the future, and all forms of emotion have been outlawed. Why? They are bad, of course. Silly. No, but really, they are. This movie is about big brother: the biggest, brother-est version of big brother you ever heard of though. After World War III, the government determines that man is its own worst enemy. They cannot be trusted and thus must be stopped. No more laughing, no more music, no more ham sandwiches. No more knock-knock jokes, and, if I’m right, everybody is clean-shaven, too. Mirrors aren’t allowed to have frames, walls all have to be painted perfectly white, no clothing with color…. let’s see, I’m missing a few things, I think. Obviously, no stained glass windows; in fact, the regular windows are covered up so you can’t look out them and think anything about what you see.
No art of any kind, either. No re-arranging your desk at work, either, it was fine the way it was, (what were you thinking…?) You better not have been thinking about it, or you might get shot. Oh, did I mention that? Yea, if you do any of those things we’ve been discussing, you are dead. Either with a polite bullet in the head, or with a more screamy push into a big oven. Don’t worry, they call it processing, so it’s less scary.
Society is forced to take a drug (Prozium) several times a day, to keep them good and numb. It’s The Matrix, just different. InThe Matrix the system kept people plugged in, and it left them alone, unless they resisted; then it hunted them down and killed them. In this movie, the system keeps people drugged, and leaves them alone, unless they resist, then it hunts them down and kills them. See, totally different.
The List: Good Ideas Similar to The Matrix
1. The Moves
- The Clerics / The Agents
The ideas of resistance in this film are much more basic than the massive system of human enslavement we see in The Matrix. It’s more along the lines of, shoot guys who disagree with you, and shoot them a lot. The law is enforced by The Tetragrammaton Council, and specifically, by their agents (did I say agents?), called the Clerics. They don’t like… umm… they don’t like… things. Whenever they see things they don’t like, they shoot them. The Agents in The Matrix are more interested in studying and figuring out ways to break the human mind. I like the Clerics better, because for them it’s more about action than it is philosophy. Philosophy is all well and good, but The Matrix is thirty minutes longer than Equilibrium, and I’d say they have the same amount of action, so you do the math.
- Gun Kata / Bendy Rule Breaking
Thousands of recorded gun fights help the Clerics invent a new form of martial arts, the Gun Kata. I’ll save you the ridiculous description and we’ll just say that they shoot two guns at once in insane ways so that one dude can kill fifteen or twenty without even really moving his feet around too much, all while avoiding the most likely trajectories of return fire. I know Neo was all bendy and stuff… but this is way cooler.
2. The Movement
- The Underground / Zion
The rebellion in these two films stand for the same ideas, but once again are fairly different from one another. I’m ignoring the sequels to The Matrix in this discussion because, well, they should be ignored all the time, anyways. The underground in Equlibrium is run by William Fichtner. He teaches people that it is all right to feel and to have emotion, that its the only reason worth living for and likewise the only thing truly worth dying for. This is the only place where I really preferred The Matrix. Morpheous and the Oracle are hard for anyone to compete with. The City of Zion is only mentioned but not shown, which is a lot cooler than seeing the underground tunnels in Equilibrium, which definitely seemed a lot more like in Demolition Man than in anything else.
(end of The List)
Oh, and not for nothing, but Christian Bale… showing barely any emotion for two hours, while mercilessly taking down tons of bad guys all at once, fighting against an evil that overwhelms society? You think Chris Nolan watched this movie when he was trying to decide who should play Batman? Yeah, maybe not.
OH WAIT A MINUTE…… Someone wants to hear something about the acting, no doubt huh? I’ll give you just a taste. Nice speeches about why the process of feeling things should still matter, from Sean Beam and Emily Watson. Taye Diggs stole the show, I say, with his heartless Cleric named Brandt. The dude just did not emote whatsoever, and happily put down anyone who did. Interesting that over the next few years he’d be singing and dancing in Chicago, Rent, and Drum. Strange? Or the mark of the good actor?
Lastly, yes, Christian Bale is John Preston. Preston is a Cleric, too. We meet Preston and his two small children, his wife having been killed for Sense Offense. Preston struggles throughout the film trying to determine if his life’s dedication to the government’s pursuit of offenders is right or wrong. He shows us once again that playing roles devoid of emotion tends to be his specialty. Meanwhile, Keanu Reeves knows kung-fu.